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A video has resurfaced of late with the claim that PM Narendra Modi’s diatribes against the Congress (INC) for proposing to ban Bajrang Dal (BD) in Karnataka is hypocritical because, as CM of Gujarat, he had decimated the organisation. Did he? The facts of the case are not black-and-white.
I interviewed not only Zafar Sareshwala but also Congress-turned-BJP spokeswoman Asifa Khan in 2013. They mouthed the same lines. In that brief period when the campaign for the 2014 election was going on, even filmmaker Mahesh Bhatt would say Modi had been misunderstood for the 2002 riots in Gujarat. Scriptwriter Salim Khan had jumped on the ‘Modi bachao’ bandwagon, as did a posse of Islamic clerics — like the late Mufti Ejaz Arshad Qasmi — who were otherwise known to be pathologically anti-Hindu.
This was an exercise to make Modi globally acceptable after more than a decade of vilification campaigns against him by the domestic and Western media, and also make Muslim voters less hostile to him, as extreme hostility makes the community vote en bloc for one of the rival parties. The impression that a leader is anti-Muslim also puts off moderate/secular Hindus, which is a sure-shot recipe for BJP’s disaster. But how the party’s campaign managed to bring together so many Muslims to say Modi was a good guy, I do not know.
Watch what Zafar Sareshwala told about Bajrang dal and Dr Pravin Togadia in Praise of Narendra Modi:
Further, as is the nature of Indian society, a personality that leads a movement always becomes larger than the movement. Pravin Togadia had thus become larger than the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) and its Bajrang Dal. Now, Modi has never been comfortable with a colleague whose name becomes equal to or larger than his. Opposition leaders are safer in the Modi regime than Parivar members inimical to him. Look at the fate of Sanjay Joshi or anybody else who challenged Modi from within the rank and file of the Parivar. All such cases drive home the same point.
Therefore, Modi reducing Togadia from a mass leader to a small-time neta was the politics of personal rivalry playing out. Modi had nothing against Bajrang Dal.
Furthermore, if the Sangh Parivar did not know it already with the experience of Atal Bihari Vajpayee years, it has realised now that the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) or any wing of it — the VHP is a wing of the Parivar whereas Bajrang Dal activists are their footsoldiers — trying to challenge a BJP PM of the day is suicidal. It leads to a situation like that of 2004 where fratricide leads to staying out of power for a decade. So, the current government’s Muslim outreach programme notwithstanding, unlike the “Mian Vajpayee” SMS campaign by the VHP in the run-up to the 2004 election, there will never be a “Mian Modi” WhatsApp campaign. Even with its reduced stature, Bajrang Dal will not complain.
But banning is an extreme legal measure. If banned, Bajrang Dal will be devastated, with its banking operations frozen and even an outfit with a changed name that springs out of it will not be able to function, as the new laws ban such outfits by default. Bajrang Dal, therefore, does not fear Modi; it has but all the reasons to fear the Congress.
Source: Writer’s Tweet.
Surajit Dasgupta is a veteran journalist based in Delhi. He is the founder of his research portal Swadharma which preaches about Hindu Dharma and Hindutva.
The opinion expressed by the writer is personal.
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